Monday, September 15, 2014

Listen

I haven't talked about the new season of Doctor Who yet for a number of reasons. First, I especially hated the premiere episode. Second, I especially hated the 50th anniversary episode. Third, I didn't like the last several seasons at all. And finally, isn't that just the most boring thing to talk about?

I am sick of reading fans screaming at each other over everything, but especially Doctor Who. It's rather pointless to argue about it, and most criticism of the show is totally worthless. It's mainly divided into camps now of people who adore the show so much that they've lost the capacity to talk about it constructively, and people whose hatred of the show had made them so angry that all they want to do is slag everything about it, and neither of those sides seems capable of communicating with each other. It's all just defensive, precious opinioneering, and I'm sick of engaging with it.

Remember how much I used to love Doctor Who? Well, I haven't for years. Is that interesting to read about? Probably not. I could as easily stop watching the show altogether. No one's forcing me. As it is, up until this season, I was saving it on my TiVo and watching it in one-day chunks and talking about that. There is nothing worse in this world than a person who hates a television show, but keeps engaging with it because he's so enamored of being self-righteously offended by not enjoying something that he hammers on and on every week about what the show owes him and why he's so hurt by it.

(Some of you doubtlessly recognize this as the reason why it's so tiresome to talk about Star Wars online. Yes, yes, I get it. Wake me when it gets interesting again.)

Anyway, as much as I disliked the first two episodes of this new season, I am enjoying the show now. The last two episodes were surprising. I'm not going to claim that "Robots of Sherwood" was a great episode of the show, but it was the first one since sometime in the fifth season that I found myself really, truly enjoying. Just a bouncy little adventure that was a lot of fun.

But this week's episode, "Listen," was quite special. It was honestly the first time I'd found myself so engaged by Doctor Who since "Vincent and the Doctor."

I'm sure a great deal of it had to do with my own struggles with anxiety and fear. A great deal of it also had to do with the fact that Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman are just quite good in their roles. (Once Clara stopped being The Most Important Companion In the History of Ever and started being a character, I was onboard, and the interplay between the two actors is fun.)

But I felt like, for once, Steven Moffat put aside his boring insistence that the Doctor is the complete nexus of space and time and the linchpin on which all of existence hangs and stopped examining the subtext as text and stopped making the show about itself and its various themes and just told a story about characters. Seriously, every theme and context and trope that Moffat spent all those years with Matt Smith commenting on and examining and tearing apart and smugly being oh-so-clever about... it felt like, in one episode, Moffat actually managed to tell a story about characters that played those themes in an interesting context by using those tropes in a way that was genuine. For once, it was about people instead of itself.

It was unexpected to really love an episode of the show again, and that was nice. So I thank Steven Moffat for that. Frankly, that one episode can replace the entirety of the Matt Smith era for me (with the exception of "Vincent and the Doctor").

But, you know, that's part of Doctor Who fandom, right? There's so much there you can skip the stuff you don't like, instead of harping on about it week after week.

See earlier talk re: why I don't talk about Doctor Who anymore.

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

As someone who doesn't watch Doctor Who, I nevertheless TOTALLY agree with the snorefest that is fandom of any cult show/movie, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, or even casting on the Marvel movies. I used to sell comic books; I KNOW how boring fans can be. Thanks for your restraint, Frog.